Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) confirms that he's still negotiating with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to bring a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell to the Senate floor as early as today. In a statement just released to reporters from his office, Lieberman says that despite Democratic claims that Collins is holding up the works
with "unreasonable" requests, the negotiations are continuing apace.
"Senator Collins has been working in good faith to achieve an agreement on the process to move forward with the defense bill that contains the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' I categorically reject reports by uninformed staffers who have suggested otherwise," Lieberman said. "As she always does, Senator Collins is working diligently and across party lines to find solutions to the challenges that confront our country."
Lieberman took a swipe at Democratic aides who are telling reporters that Collins doesn't seem willing to budge. "I call on those responsible for such baseless allegations to stop immediately and instead work to get to an agreement to bring this critical bill to the floor for Senate action."
Lieberman says that it's "now more clear than ever that we have 60 or more votes in support of repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'" That means the fate of the ban on gay and lesbian servicemembers in the military rests on working out the cloture process for the defense spending bill that includes the DADT repeal language. The process would have to play out in a way that will appease Collins -- who wants "unlimited" time for debate -- and thus secure her vote to move the bill forward to final consideration.
"We are making progress toward an agreement to move forward on the defense bill that includes the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and I remain confident that we can reach an agreement, which is necessary before any vote on the motion to reconsider is taken," Lieberman said. "I am working closely with Senator Reid and Senator Collins and other members who want to reach a fair and reasonable agreement to move the defense authorization bill that that is so essential to the needs of our troops, veterans, and their families."